Generally, all businesses fall into one of these broad categories: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Limited Liability Corporation, or Corporation.

A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business owned by one individual. A partnership is a legal entity existing between two or more persons who join together, to carry on a trade or business.

An LLC is a business structure with flow-through tax treatment of a partnership, along with the limited liability protection of a corporation. Income and income tax are distributed among the owning members, but members are not personally liable for debts of the business. A corporation is a distinct legal entity, distinct from the individuals who own it. Corporations offer limited liability protection for share owners, but profits are taxed at the corporation level and as dividends with the share holder. An S-Corporation offers many of the benefits of incorporation, without exposing the shareholders to the double taxation a general corporation requires.

No matter which type of business organization you choose to form, make sure you consider all of your options before making a decision. It’s a good idea to consult with an attorney, so you understand the benefits and drawbacks to each type of business entity.The selection of a business entity (form) will affect your personal liability, your taxes, how you draw profits, your ability to raise capital, how you run your business, and how complex your business reporting will be.

In the past few years, many new business owners have selected a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) for a variety of reasons. A sole proprietorship is another option used fairly frequently for a small business with a single owner.

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